Why is Justin Chang dissing ‘Downton’ sequel?

A man in a suit and a woman in an Art Deco dress look surprised.
Kevin Doyle and Michelle Dockery in “Downton Abbey: A New Era.”
(Ben Blackall / Focus Features)

What a sad review [“‘Abbey’ Is Still Cheerily Classist,” May 19]. I’m grateful I saw the new “Downton Abbey” film before reading Justin Chang’s review. It would have spoiled it for me. On top of telling me the whole story, which I detest and certainly don’t need before I see the film, the review ends with a recommendation to not watch people beam at their good fortune. Well, I certainly did and I even felt emotional about it and about other scenes.

I left the theater walking in a beautiful cloud feeling delighted somebody decided to do this film. I’m a 78-year-old woman, a dentist, still working, and this film was exactly what I needed.

I live a full life and yet I’m still able to feel enchanted with the gift of a film like this.

Myriam Soler

Los Angeles


Justin Chang’s suggestion of a third movie in the “Downton Abbey” franchise, “Downton Stabby” (a slasher movie), could very well spawn many others, to wit: “Downton Crabby” (the Crawley family sits around and complains about various misfortunes — oh wait, they do that now); “Downton Flabby” (alarmed by their inflated midriffs, they order Mrs. Patmore to come up with a strict vegetarian diet based on kale and caviar — she quits); “Downton Tabby” (Robert’s dog dies and he adopts a cat who meets a tragic end when on a fox hunt the “purrsuer” becomes the “purrsuee”; “Downton Chablis” (while in France, the Crawleys purchase a vineyard and name the wine after Robert, “Two Bob Rob”; and “Downton Downtown” (forced to sell the manor, they buy a condo in London with only two loos).


Bert Berdis

Los Angeles


Sometimes I wonder: Who is Justin Chang’s audience — moviegoers or himself? There really is no need for a sarcastic, judgmental and too long review.

We are smart enough, intelligent enough and sensitive enough to know this is all a frothy pink cloud. In days of war and COVID, let us have our frills in peace and quiet.

Batia Atzmony



I was initially delighted to see that a “Downton Abbey” sequel has been made but ultimately disappointed that it will be released in movie theaters and not on TV.

Hopefully, the new “Downton Abbey” will eventually come to TV where it will be appreciated by its many fans who are reluctant to attend a theater during this pandemic time.

Bunny Landis


Ellen’s last dance

Thank you, Matt Brennan, for a brilliant piece of writing [“Lots of Dancing. And Missteps.” May 22]. You clearly defined exactly why I’ve felt uncomfortable about Ellen DeGeneres in recent years without being able to explain. Now I can.

R. C. Price

San Clemente


Your decision to feature a hit piece on Ellen DeGeneres days before her landmark show ends is callous, boneheaded and dare I say misogynistic. Did you publish a piece slamming Johnny Carson for his infamous infidelity days before his last show? Was David Letterman scandalized during his final week for his inappropriate relationships with female employees? Or is it just the gay woman whose groundbreaking show brought joy, laughter and charity to so many for almost two decades who you thought deserved this sendoff? Yes, there has been some controversy surrounding Ellen in recent years but so what — we’ve already heard about it. Why flaunt it on the front of the Calendar section this week of all weeks?


Laura Gallop

Agoura Hills


Matt Brennan’s diatribe on Ellen DeGeneres says more about Matt Brennan than it does about Ellen. Seeking perfection in celebrities, or actually anyone including politicians, parents and loved ones, is asking for disappointment and suffering and shows unreasonable expectations. Ellen is a comedian and an actress who made a personal and professional decision to come out on a series episode. It paid off for her in her career and personal goals and her timing was great, as freedoms for being gay increased soon thereafter. She never claimed to be the perfect advocate or spokesperson for LGBTQ issues, and as a gay man I never expected that of her. Mr. Brennan suggests that her success as a talk show host is riddled with scandal citing that she “lied” about whether she was invited to Dakota Jackson’s birthday party as a breach too far when she could easily have just forgotten. And that her role as an executive is shameful and “out of touch” without citing any real laws or HR principles that she has been convicted of or censured under in her contract. And that she never explained her accompanying George Bush to a ball game. Really? Matt Brennan might be better served looking deeper into his need to find perfection in humans who are just being human.

Garry George

Los Angeles


The Los Angeles Times got it wrong when they dressed up Matt Brennan’s kick-her-while-she’s-down hit piece on Ellen DeGeneres with kaleidoscopic and blurry images of Ellen-as-a-mad-woman. Could it be that, like Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos,” Ellen had to be elbows-up every day offscreen to carve out the space for a genuine lesbian onscreen friend who appeals to all us? I should think so, and virtually none of us were actually there to see if some unforgivable line was crossed. My gut tells me Ellen is actually who we see onscreen: a friendly and super-funny woman. So she’s under pressure, sure, but that does not make her crazy as The Times so wrongly suggests in their own full-page kick-her-while-she’s-down punch.

David Yale

Los Angeles


That was quite the hatchet job Matt Brennan did on Ellen DeGeneres. He seems to base his criticism on two incidents — one with Dakota Johnson and one with Kevin Hart — very slim examples of how he perceives Ms. DeGeneres’ failings. Very disappointing that the L.A. Times would print such a poor example of journalism.

Beth Weston

Los Angeles


I was satisfied to read a “counter Ellen” perspective in the thoughtful article by Matt Brennan that discussed her career and reputation. Two things I felt deserved mention.

First, Ellen traded on her “niceness” by big giveaways on her shows. People didn’t stop to think she gave nothing, except promotional value to the givers. Yet she soaked up their gratitude as though she were Santa.

Second, and profoundly worse, Ellen hosted a show (which mimicked a segment on “The Ellen Show”) where she delightedly tortured and humiliated guests who flubbed the answer to a question, I imagine that pitch meeting — “How about a show where you play God, and shame and punish other people when they get a quiz answer wrong?” There’s something really telling about who she pretends to be.

Lauren Linde

Los Angeles

As an actor who has appeared several times on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” I’ve always found Ellen to be kind and patient.

Jean Tanner

Marina del Rey

Water shortage is a crisis

Carolina A. Miranda is correct about getting more specific information about water usage [“Water Message Is Far Too Dry,” May 19], but I think the reasons usage has not dropped have other reasons as well. I am not a big water user and have followed past recommendations, such as use dishwasher not hand-wash dishes, low-flow toilets, etc. and there is not much left to do. I am afraid of going lower because of the suspicion that, at some point, we are going to have to cut our water use by a certain percentage and if we have very low usage to begin with we will be unfavorably “punished.” Also it is hard to take the issue seriously when the agricultural industry uses far more water than others (5 gallons for one walnut, for example).

Andrew Bressler

Culver City


Carolina A. Miranda makes some fine points about water messaging. But I have yet to see an article in The Times that gets to the heart of the matter.

My monthly bill for water (via LVWMD) is roughly $125. The actual cost of the water my family of four uses is under $15. The remaining charges include a $75 sewage fee, which is not based on usage but the amount needed to keep the LVWMD in profit; and a $35 Readiness to Serve fee, which is the fee we pay for having the LVWMD’s water meter on our property.

It does not matter how much water we conserve (we already catch shower water in buckets to water plants; let our lawn die; water the few exterior plants only one day per week; and limit our shower times), there is no way to bring our water bill down, because LVWMD has created disincentives by baking in ridiculous fees that are not tied to usage.

Finally, it matter little whether California’s 30 million citizens reduce their water use when 85% of all water used in California goes to for-profit farming. For-profit farmers exported more than $21 billion of crops overseas in 2020, with water-intensive crops like almonds and pistachios accounting for more than $7 billion of that value. Why should California residents conserve our water use when more than 60% of all water used in California is being exported to other nations as cash crops?

Perhaps we need drought rules for farmers: Reduce your crop size and your water needs and only grow what is needed to feed Californians and Americans.

Stop asking Californians to conserve water when we allow 60% of our water to be turned into profit for crop exporters.

David Higgins

Los Angeles


Thank you Carolina A. Miranda for articulating what I have been thinking. I also have some ideas that I think will help with our new water normal. 1) Tell us what 80 gallons of water per person would look like in the terms that we see on our bill (CCFs) — I think I calculated that a family of two would need to use 6 CCFs per month but I have no idea if I did the math right. 2) Make it mandatory for individual apartments and businesses to be responsible for their own water usage. 3) Skip the rebates for changing your lawn; instead offer a rebate for changing to a greywater system for outdoor watering (this will require working with companies to offer economical systems that can be installed). 4) Get serious about building desalinization plants. This was successful in Israel and it will be essential here in California if we want to continue to have crops.

Wendy Velasco



Does Carolina A. Miranda really believe that Palossand or any other mascot or even celebrities drying out and cracking will change the water usage behavior of tenants living in rent-controlled apartments who experience no financial or other downside for using as much water as they they like since the landlord pays the bill? Water conservation is not as simple as changing the messenger or the message.

David Finkelstein

Los Angeles

A self-made icon

Robert Lloyd’s critique [“‘Angelyne’ Goes Only Skin Deep,” May 19] miserably and hopelessly confused what the person Angelyne is all about and waxes incoherently on the philosophy of the presence of success.

Ronia Tamar Goldberg, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, created the unique, sometimes campy, niche of Angelyne that is pure Hollywood icon of the ’70s. To Angelyne’s fabulous fantastic persona are three albums, 10 singles, roles in 18 films and 14 TV shows along with 17 music videos, and larger-than-life on at least 15 billboards besides her exclusive signs in the entertainment capital.

Also, the Corvettes in pink are just part of selling her clever creative look: pink miniskirts, pink hair, even pink lipstick.

By the way, Joan Didion loved her ’69 Corvette Stingray. I’m going to watch “Angelyne,” ’cause it’s Angelyne.

Mark Shapiro

Los Angeles

Courtroom drama coverage

I must say, as a former journalist, Mary McNamara’s column [“Scenes From a Ghastly Marriage,” May 24] completely missed the important social nuances that need dire attention in the Heard-Depp trial. True, people need to be more glued to important stories of consequence, but it’s equally true that people are attracted to this very case because of the easy-peasy PC hypocrisy that passes for “left” journalism these days. I say this as an old-school progressive sickened by the vapid and simplistic virtue signaling that is deemed “the left” these days, which created the atmosphere for Heard’s manipulative opinion piece to be published by the Post to begin with.

The truth is what now passes for the left press is ironically responsible for the distraction from facts and stories that matter, the very ones referred to by McNamara in her column. How was it that Heard was allowed to deliberately plan and synchronize what she wrote with the release of a movie, a deliberate two-party effort? Also, the case genuinely interests some people for good reason — accusations alone on the tail of the #metoo movement should not be enough to attack a person, even when done slyly, in print. Clearly Depp has his side of abuse to share. (I say this as both a feminist and a lover of journalistic ethics.) And clearly the public interest in this case is a symptom that such journalistic games by the left, and right, in place of genuine substance needs to stop.

June Avignone

Rochester, N.Y.